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Using the Library

Your college library is your most valuable research tool, and your college librarians will be your most helpful research consultants. Your librarians can show you how to access the library’s computerized book catalog, periodical databases, and electronic resources, and they can tell you what materials are available at your library and how to get additional materials on loan from other libraries. As well, they can show you how to use the Internet to find information relevant to your research paper.

Types of Sources Available in Your College Library
There are many types of sources, both print and electronic, that you might consider using for research.

  • Reference Works such as almanacs, bibliographies, biographies, dictionaries, and encyclopedias provide a general overview of a subject area. They are a good place to start your research as often the list of references at the end of an article can lead you to additional sources on your topic. These books do not circulate, so plan to take notes or make photocopies of the pages you need.

  • Books

  • Periodicals such as newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals may contain research on your topic that is more up-to-date than research you might find in books. Keep in mind that articles written by scholars and experts for academic journals and publications are generally more reliable than articles written by journalists for popular newspapers and magazines.

  • The Internet, a global network of computers, provides access to online databases, reference works, and periodicals. You can use the Internet to read about your topic on Web sites, to conduct interviews via e-mail, to chat about your research topic, or to read about your topic in newsgroups and discussion lists. Remember that anyone can publish on the Web, and it is especially important to critically evaluate any information you find online before using it in your own research. To learn the fundamentals of evaluating Web sources, visit the Web Evaluation Tutor.

  • Libraries online
    Many college libraries list their reference materials, books, and periodical holdings on their Web sites. In addition, some library sites include links to helpful reference works available on the Internet. Access your college library site to see what materials are available online. And, for additional research help, check out these other library Web sites:

  • Harvard Libraries: Conducting Resesarch: Includes a guide to electronic research

  • University of Michigan Library: Includes a list of networked electronic resources arranged by discipline.

  • University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center: Includes a large collection of electronic texts, images, historical documents, and books.

  • University of Pennsylvania Online Book Page: Includes over 17,000 online books.

  • Library of Congress: Includes a comprehensive section for researchers with a virtual reference shelf and access to digital collections.

  • Business Communication NOWOnline Learning Center

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